Members of Sag Harbor’s Civil Service Union and eight additional employees will receive annual base pay hikes plus 3-percent raises for three years of a new five-year agreement that the Village Board of Trustees approved on Tuesday. For two of those years, salaries will rise by 3 percent but without the base-pay hike.
The union previously had approved the proposed agreement by an 18-1 vote, Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said at a brief, special meeting of the Village Board on December 2 when it voted unanimously to approve the pact.
Also at the meeting, the board approved an application for a matching grant of $82,130 from the Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program to help pay for water quality improvement projects, including 12 roadside rain gardens along Bay Street to reduce runoff that is channeled through Havens Beach to the bay. The village will have to match the county contribution in expenditures or in-kind work to cover the total anticipated cost of $164,260.
Mayor Mulcahy said the village had been unaware of the potential grant source until Mary Ann Eddy, chair of the village’s Harbor Committee, discovered it was an option for the village. Ms. Eddy said in an interview the funding comes from Suffolk County’s voter-approved quarter-percent sales tax to raise money for water quality improvements. She said the village will leverage its share of the project with a $43,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is administered through the states and locally by the Peconic Estuary Program.
The rain gardens planned for two sections of Bay Street just east and west of Havens Beach were not among the water quality projects that the Town of East Hampton has agreed to finance through its Community Preservation Fund; work on those — including permeable road pavement on downtown Bay Street and rain gardens at Marine Park and in the Azurest community — is expected to begin soon. The Town of Southampton is also funding seven rain garden and runoff filtration installations in locations on the west side of Sag Harbor.
Under the terms of the CSEA agreement, which is retroactive to May 31, 2018, when the last contract expired, the CSEA workers and eight other employees who are not represented by the union will receive raises of $1,000 for the first year of the agreement beginning June 1, 2018; $500 the second the year, and $200 the fifth year on top of 3-percent raises for each of the five years of the pact ending May 31, 2023.
The agreement doubles the years of service required from five to 10 years for any new workers hired after the date the agreement — around now — to qualify for continued medical coverage after their retirements. Current workers will continue to qualify for lifetime benefits after five years. Facing a rising liability for retiree benefits, municipalities all over the country have been taking the same step for years.
Also, the pact gradually eliminates a “cafeteria plan” stipend of $500 a year currently in effect for employees who earn $75,000 a year or less. The stipend will decrease to $300 in 2020, $200 in 2021 and $100 in 2022 and will be eliminated as of May 31, 2023.
Commenting by email on the agreement after Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Mulcahy said, “I’m very happy we were able to get this done before the holidays so it does mean that the village workers will have a nice bit of extra money in their checks in time for holiday shopping, which hopefully they will spend in the shops on Main Street!”
Highway Department employee Vincent Lattanzio, who negotiated for the CSEA, could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.
Asked if the agreement indicated there had been a recent breakthrough in negotiations, Mayor Mulcahy said, “I’m not certain I would call it a breakthrough in negotiations. We did re-start negotiations soon after I took office [on July 1, 2019] and had conversations that took place over several months. I don’t really think we were ever that far away; it was more a matter of figuring out what was most important to the workers and what the village could do to help reach those goals. Given it is two years past due, we were also able to extend it to a five-year contract, two retroactive and three in the future, so the good news [is] we don’t have to start renegotiating immediately.”